Wednesday, January 26, 2011

When the Bottom Drops Out

When living with PTSD and TBI, every day seems like forever....some days better than others. Often times, we spend our hours covering up for our Veterans, apologizing, lying to ourselves....ignoring our worst fears and only hoping for the best. We clean them up when they are a mess...when they are drunk, we put them to bed and let them sleep it off......when they screw up, we try to correct or make up for their mistakes. We apologize when they are nasty to others or lie to ourselves when they are so mean to us. When you think you have almost everything figured out...then the bottom falls out.

I will more than likely get some nasty grams from some readers telling me I shouldn't be writing this. I will get some some slack from those who read my blog and know those who screwed up, will make excuses to me.....I will tell my story though because for every person who will shun me for writing my tale....there will be 500 others who will sit there and agree or take caution for themselves. There is so much that has happened, I will be breaking this down into several blogs so I don't bore you to death. I will pass on my story so it helps others who may end up in my position and the lessons learned.

Last week rocked along like any other week. Same meds, same night time tosses and turns...nothing really out of the norm, IF that even applies to us anymore. My husband woke up somewhat irritable that morning, but nothing that I could not shrug off and go on about my business. He had his coffee, read the paper and decided the trash needed to go out to the can for pickup. Now with the crap loads of snow we had, it was easier to place one bag of trash outside on the porch for later, than to track through the ice and snow. Hindsight 20/20, I should have made the trek in the snow.

I was on the phone with a friend and outside watching him. He turned around and if looks could have killed...they would have had to bury me twice. I told my friend that I needed to go, hubby was in a "mood" and let me see what's going on. I looked at my husband and said "What's wrong?" and all hell broke loose. He started to yell at me over this one single bag of trash.....then that led to the trash can wasn't in the place where he wanted it. I quietly and calmly told him that I wasn't going to fight or argue with him....he needed to take a step back and breathe....then we will talk about whatever was bothering him. I turned and walked back into the house.

After that it was a blur.

He came rushing through that back door like the hounds of hell were on his heels and started screaming "I can't take it anymore!"....our older and solid wood kitchen table and chairs suddenly became splinters. Whole chairs being picked up and slammed against counter tops, floor and the table...solid oak reduced suddenly to fifty tiny million zillion pieces. I don't remember much as I think I have pretty much blocked most of what happened out...but I know I looked to my little ones and said "RUUUUUUN".

In between the screaming, the yelling about small things like the trash can, and the husband suddenly stopped. He looked at me as if I was someone he had never seen before and started to laugh. Now, as weird as that was the way he was laughing. It was laughter mixed with sobs, hysteria and tears...I started backing away and trying to calm him down to no avail. My oldest son was behind him and I said slowly, call 911. My husband immediately grabbed for the phones...he smashed my blackberry, broke the home phone leaving me no way to call anyone. He came at me and started screaming as if I had suddenly set him off somehow. Pushed me up against the wall, threw me to the floor and just started choking. My oldest son started yelling "Leave my mama alone!" and my husband reached for him and slammed him up against the counter.

I don't remember every little detail. I had all this blog planned out in my head but its as if suddenly that part of the tape in my memory got erased a little. I know that whatever that was facing me, wasn't my husband. It was was enough to make the hair on my arms and neck stand up. He started barking orders....telling me I needed to move out of his way and fire back. "They have us surrounded...Sarge is down, repeat Sarge is down". He was running around the house, and yelling, screaming and just literally panicking. I had my oldest run downstairs and get the old phone that we had unplugged for me to use. My husband walked into our bedroom and just closed the door. I was so afraid that I didn't want to go in there, but I knew that I had to do something. I walked in, and saw my husband with a gun in his mouth.

Now for those of you who will chide me, fuss at me, and call me wrong....please remember that when in this situation, your thinking goes out the door. I was literally scared half to death, on top of trying to locate my children. I knew not to run, because he was holding a gun. He just kept crying and saying "make it go away mommy...make it go away" (mommy is his term of endearment for me). I talked softly and slowly, and told him that I would get him help....I would make it better and I wasn't going anywhere. I took that gun and after unloading it, gave to my son to take outside and hide it.

All while mumbling and stumbling, he started looking for alcohol. He began to tear through the fridge and discovered five beers we had leftover when a friend was here months ago. He hadn't drunk anything in a very very long time but it gave me a chance to make some calls. Before I knew it, he had down two pints of Jack we had been given as a gift by his deadbeat dad and refused to open......then yes, we had a little moonshine that someone had given us that hadn't been open. Drinking that much in short amount of time, allowed him to be a little more pliable about getting in the truck and going to the ER at the VA. I didn't know what else to do. I couldn't call 911 because he works for them and was so humiliated. Hindsight 20/20 I should have done that.

It took forever for us to get him in the took even longer to make it part way before we had to stop since he started throwing up. On the way down, he was ranting about IED's and how we were going the wrong hadn't been cleared, we were going to die. Then he switched and started screaming about the tractor trailer in front of us and it was a bomb and we were going to get blown was horrifying. My oldest son who went with me, really saved me and got us to the ER. He started barking orders at my husband. "SGT, you need to get in the truck and drive. Stand down soldier....stand down. We will be getting ourselves back to the FOB and get some rest." My husband kept saying "I have blood all over me, its all over me" and my son " Soldier, we will get you cleaned up...we have to move. That's an order".

My husband literally was driving in the passenger seat. He asked for directions and my son barked them out all while assuring him that it was friendly fire and the convoy was safe. When we arrived at the ER, I couldn't get him out of the truck. Because we are an emergency medical family, we called a 911 operator we knew who was able to get VA security out there and EMS. They were smart enough to get an EMS tech who just got back home from Iraq. Whatever he said to my husband, within two minutes had him calmed down. I heard him say "I know, brother...I was there with you in the blood and the muck...its ease soldier".

My children were taken by a friend of ours and they rushed my husband into the ER. They had to restrain him for a while, but the EMS tech stayed with him the whole time. They took me by the arms and led me out....making we wait outside the ER doors to the back. I was hysterical to say the least....I can't remember if I fell to my knees...but I was on the floor just sobbing. Sobbing for the last four years of hell...sobbing for the fact that my love didn't save my husband or help him in anyway. I couldn't calm him down this time, I couldn't take away the pain.

I remember them sitting me down in a chair in a separated area on the other side of the ER waiting room. A resident doctor came out with two VA security officers, a nurse and our friend the EMS tech. They circled around me and told me my husband had a psychotic break with dissociative disorder. I was kind of in a daze and said ok...what does that mean? No one would tell me but the EMS tech said, "honey, he thinks he is in Iraq". The resident doctor said my husband was suicidal and homicidal which I couldn't understand. I mean, yes on the suicide but how homicidal? I was then informed that my husband threatened this Middle Eastern resident physician.

Now flame me if you want...go ahead. I would be the LAST person who would ever be called or even accused of being racist. I myself, having grown up around all of these different accents and heavy English that can be barely understood..had no freaking clue on what this young man was saying. He wasn't very nice to me....matter a fact, he asked me questions point blank like "has your husband ever hurt someone that was of the middle eastern descent". I didn't understand that...I looked wild eyed at these cops and our EMS buddy and said "Beats the shit outta me buddy. He went to war....from what I have learned, it wasn't a trip to Disney land". So then this young man proceeds to tell me that because he is in this psychopathic state of mind, I have two choices. One: I can have him moved to a lock down facility in Nashville which is about five hours for me or Two: I can have a crisis team be called in to investigate and they will take him away from me along with my rights as a spouse. He asked me if I was my husband's caregiver in which I replied yes. He then stated " Well obviously you didn't do a good enough job now did you?"

I went off....I can't even remember all that I said, but I did tell him " For FOUR %^$#&**() years, the VA just pumped him full of medicines...four years, I dealt with all this alone...with no one. No help, no respite, no understanding. I kept telling you all this was coming...I kept telling the psychiatrist over and over again.....he told his psychiatrist. That just led to another damn medicine and right back home he goes!" I said other things....some very unlady like. Some my mother, God rest her soul, would have rolled over in her grave to hear such words come out of her daughter's southern belle upbringing. I also told him that if he felt insulted, threatened because he looked like he could be an Iraqi to a Veteran who isn't in his right mind...he was in the wrong damn place.

He marched away and the cops and EMS were trying to calm me down. I never felt such failure in my life. Did I really fail my husband as a caregiver? Didn't I do a good enough job?

I don't remember much after that as it was a blur but the EMS guy went back to sit with my husband who was agitated...they wouldn't allow me to see him. The VA security guy looked at me and said " Look at me in the eyes Ma'am. There isn't enough training in the world or enough love to prevent that. You did the right thing. You look at me and know that just last year....that was me in that room with the restraints and my wife was standing where you are...I served the Army as a combat, Vietnam two tours..Now we are going to go grab a smoke together, if you do...then I am going to take you down and buy you the world's worst coffee and we are going to take deep breaths together."

When we came through the ER waiting room, I got an applause from the Veterans who were waiting there. I don't know what I said to deserve it...but one man looked at me so sadly as I walked past him and said "this is the side of the war they don't show you honey".

I don't know who the VA security man was....can't recall his name tag or even if he told me his name. If it hadn't been for him though, not sure if I could have made it through all that. They couldn't sedate my husband because he was four times the legal limit of alcohol and they were trying to frantically wash all of it out of his system because they were afraid mixed with his would kill him. They did give him something small to to relax him and due to the alcohol, he eventually cried himself to sleep in a fetal position.

During all this, I don't remember much as I have said.....but I remember calling all my friends. Anyone and everyone who I thought could come help me. No one answered. No one was home. No one returned my calls. I made the last call, praying to God that the battery would stay charged long enough to make these calls and my fellow Wounded Warrior Wife answered. I can't explain the relief, the hysteria of trying to tell her what was happening, trying to tell her her I was hurt....She got on another phone while keeping me on one, and made the necessary calls I needed so desperately to make. This friend lives 8.5 hours away......

Wife of a Wounded Soldier was one call she placed to who immediately called me back and calmed me down. She was my voice of sanity and reasoning....she made me breathe. She explained to me about the ER at the VA and that was my best option although she really wanted me to call 911 and have him transported. For his sake, I just couldn't humiliate him in front of his co-workers when they think so highly of him. Looking back, that would have been the better choice. Although in two different states at the time, although there wasn't much in person they could do for me.....their friendship was what saved me ladies and gentlemen. I hope they know how much it meant to me to have them to call on and the love they showed me in times of my hysteria.

They eventually transported my husband to a lock down facility which is known for it's detox center for alcohol and drugs. My husband wasn't either one, but that is where they sent him. After IVs and a little food, and six hours later...I had to walk out of that ER to get my children and go home....I walked out with my husband in restraints screaming my name over and over again with "please don't leave me" as I left.

That was the hardest thing I have ever had to do.

Before they transported him, the doctor who was on call came in and explained to me that my husband suffered  from a long term severe flashback. He told me that I did everything that I could do, so go home and get some rest...."you have to be strong for him and be well mentally and physically". I was very sick as I was coming down with flu and pneumonia that day. They took my husband away and all I could do was watch. No information, no information on where he was numbers to call. Only "they will contact you sometime this coming week" but that's going to be in another blog.........

So what have I learned from my PTSD and TBI Veteran when the bottom falls out? I know that now, I need to keep a phone hidden away from his temper and blow ups. I now know that any cell phone even out of service will dial 911. I know that when a Veteran is in a flashback like mine was, to never ever ever touch them. I know to let professionals come in and transport rather than me trying to shelter him from the world. I know now to have a back up plan when things get bad like this. Make sure you have a friend, anyone, someone who you know you can call right then and get your children if you have them. I know to have cash in my purse for emergencies now.....I know the true meaning of friendship is when a friend is planning on packing her bags and driving 8.5 hours to you, or a friend who is out of town and can say "You have to breathe...breathe with have to calm down".

Looking back at last weekend, it still makes my stomach sink to the bottom of my core. I am having nightmares about it....I can't sleep too well and I feel still, somewhat alone. I have all these people literally living inside my computer who know what I have been through and understand...but never before in my entire life......have I ever felt so damned alone.

Four years and I was strong...I did everything I could do for him and it just wasn't enough to hold him together. Does that make me a failure or a bad caregiver/spouse? I hope not but it sure feels like it. I know this week my self esteem and confidence somewhat deflated because of all this. I am very fragile feeling and not sure why. My oldest son is doing fine, but my four year old ,who took me an hour to get him out of the closet when all this happened, is also suffering from terrible outbursts and nightmares. I think on Sunday I looked at my oldest son for the first time in a different light. I am so proud of him that I literally just well up in tears thinking of how he held it together. I asked him that evening, how did you know to do all that? He said "what mom?" I said "bark orders, pretend you were his command". He said "Call of Duty Mom. Dad and I would play together and have so much fun. I just listened to him and though of the game and immediately thought he thinks he is in Iraq. I just started telling him what he needed to do and I learned from the game or what daddy taught me they do in the military". I never really liked those stupid games, and even felt left out because that was their "bonding" time...but that damn game helped my family.

I worried about my husband Saturday....I worried for all of us who will or have been in this situation. It shouldn't be this hard. It shouldn't be sobs to a doctor and a psychiatrist yelling "Do you believe me now?" No one should ever have to go through this alone.....I did. When I get this group up and going, I will make it my sole purpose to show the world this side of it. I will make Congress look at us and the families who are silently falling apart at the seams with the caregiver trying to gather the pieces as they fall. Maybe if they are staring at a soldier with a gun in his mouth as I did, maybe they would see how they failed us. I don't think I failed...I think it was the VA who failed me. It was the Army who never once called or checked in with us. It was the Government who is making it impossible to get his benefits that he EARNED. It was the world who proudly slaps a "support our troops" sticker on their bumper and just was the ones who just don't give a f%$# about us, as our soldiers who served are now expendable and easily replaced with fresh meat. I kept thinking all week long, what if I had lost him. I sat here and literally watched him fade away a little at a time. Would the VA even do anything if he had killed himself? All I can think of is "whooops...our mistake".

I recently read where President Obama is adding all these "new programs" to help military families. Pfft. Yeah. You want to help me? ASK ME WHAT I NEED NOT WHAT YOU THINK WE NEED. Listen to us....hear my cries for help..feel my loneliness right now..take our word on the fact your programs aren't working. I am not failing...YOU ARE.



  1. Wow. I am so sorry you have had to deal with all this. I am sorry your husband is living through hell over and over again. I am sorry your children have had to see all this. I am crying like a baby here for you, for anyone that has to deal with this. And saying my prayers of thanks that my sons have not had this hard a time coming home.
    Makes me want to jump in a car and come to you, hug you and tell you it will be ok. But, there is so much more to go through, and I hate that for you. Nothing I can do will change that. I will send you my cell number though, so that if you EVER need to chat, I am here. Do NOT let anyone tell you, you did anything wrong!!! You did everything right. Its the other people that have failed your family..not you! My prayers are with you all, that you can heal from all this.

  2. Kat I just wanted to tell you that I think you're a brave strong woman!

  3. I once again am commenting in tears. I need to really talk to you. I am going to send my number to you on facebook privately. Please call me. Let me just say that once again, I could have written this with just a few different circumstances, and not just once but several times. My husband dissociates and many times, it is numerous times a day. We have been dealing with this for 3 years now and let me tell you, it does escalate. Please call me. And as usual, thanks for writing!

  4. I dont think I have ever been so moved by anything in all my life. You are truely amazing for what you did and what you continue to do. Your blog needs to be a book. It is very easy for people to be supportive when things are easy but when they get tough it is much easier to walk away. Be safe and strong my prayers are with you and your family

  5. Many Blessings to you. As a Mom of a Daughter who has TBI and Mental Issue due to it I understand how awful you feel at times and how confused and frightened. And although my Daughters injury is due to a car accident and not Honarably Serving His Country. I salute you and Him and your family. I hope that you find some comfort in this.It does get better eventually and after 5 yrs of Hospital stays and mixed Meds. She is in School and working towards her Degree. Again Thank you and you are not alone. Many hugs and blessings to you and yours.

  6. Dear Uncle Sam's Mistress,

    YOU have NOT failed as a wife to your soldier - EVER! Never, ever doubt yourself regardless of what those &%#*tards in that ER said to you (or what anyone else might say).

    I have never been in your shoes - EVER but my heart is compassionate and I admire you, your strength and your dedication to fight this not only for your soldier but for all the other soldiers and their family members who walk this path "alone" so that you/them and anyone who may find themselves on this path later will not have to ever feel alone again.

    I'm only a call away, my prayer warriors and myself are holding you all tightly in our prayers.

    I love you!

  7. I can really related to your story... thank you for posting this and I'm hoping for the best for you and your family.

  8. Wow, i could only imagine what that was like, that literally hyas been my worst fear. :( im so sorry your such a strong women!

    I can sympathis with you, and your frsutrations no one will listen to me when i tell them that my husband is not doing ok. They wont adjust his meds or do something else for him. BUT when he was doing ok they adjusted his meds!!

    Ive been for months trying to get people to listen to me and to help me one thing i have learned PUT IT IN WRITING as soon as i wrote them about all the issue THEY did something! Ive had a great advocate here who lost his brother to ptsd and its his mission to fix the problems hes really been helping me by telling me who i need to WRITE and call.

    Its frustrating to read about all the GOOD that they are doing for ptsd and all these great chnaces and all the help out there but why am i hearing so many stories of the struggles still... i agree they need to be asking us what we need! not what they think. Thank you so much for sharing your story!.

    Fellow wounded warrior wife. B

  9. Oooh babe. I just want to run to your house and give you the biggest hug EVER. I am so so sorry for you and for your babies and for your husband. My heart goes out to you... and I will keep the four of you in my prayers. I am so glad that you decided that you would share this with the world - because it is a reality for us. Brandon's snaps have never been that drastic, but I can't tell you that it would never happen. Hearing your story can help other wives like me know how to react if that ever happens in our own homes.

    Thank you. <3

  10. As the wife of a wounded warrior who suffers from PTSD, I can say that I understand your feeling of loneliness and uncertainty. I thank God I have never had to deal with something that traumatic from him but I know that at any point and time things can change. You're right, not everyone is going to understand why you posted this but, truth is, many of appreciate knowing that we are not going through this alone. You are very strong. I am sure that had someone said to me what the doctor said to you, I would have punched him in the mouth. Aweful. There is so much that I want to tell you but God knows that there is not enough room here. Know that, if you ever need anything, I am here. I live in NC and once I find a way, I will try to get you some of my info when it is not so public. God bless you!

  11. I learned about your page from Facebook, and cried the whole time. My husband has never touched me or our children, but we have lived through a lot of stuff in the little over 7yrs that my husband has had PTSD. A little over a year ago he also suffered a TBI. I do whatever it takes to protect my husband, and I can tell by your story that you do to. Please don't let people make you feel that you didn't do enough because at times our best is all we can do and even then it may not work. Showing your husband support and being there for him this long is what has kept him from going into this suicudal/homicidal rage. I also agree with you about your son. He is truely a hero! I don't know what made him think about giving him orders, but he is a really smart boy. Anyone wanting to tell you that you are wrong for writing this has never dealt with anyone that has PTSD. I commend you for what you are doing and hope to hear more about how your husband is doing. I will pray for him and your family.
    God Bless you,
    Stephanie Eudy

  12. Whew. I am going to be honest that was hard for me to read. When you called the first 7 times I couldn't answer. When I was able I wanted to save you. I wanted to swoop in and make it all go away. I needed to be there and couldn't for that I am sorry. You are NOT a bad caregiver. You did exactly what you should have done. I am proud of you for that. I felt your pain when you couldn't breathe. I know what it is like when you can't do anything to help. You did all the right things.

    I know others will learn from this story. I know you are going to help many. You have set sort of the protocol for others when this happens. I hate that you have to be the example but I thank you for being honest about it. Most people still don't talk about this.

    You are amazing and I am hoping and praying he gets the care that he needs and the care YOU need. This was traumatic for you too. I am proud of you. Thank you and love you.

  13. Everything that you did was the right thing to do. The VA needs to give us (the wives) more suport and info.

  14. I am here for you.



    Email might work best today because of the weather.

    My name is Sue.

    I'm going to stay online for the next 8 hours.

    Practical things for you:

    Go to a health food store and pick up some American ginseng capsules. Don't buy the Korean crap because it doesn't work as well. Don't buy it at Wal-Mart, either, for the same reason. Nothing is ever done for the caregivers. This is what I did for myself last year and it worked to help manage the stress.

    See if you can get the little guy and Big Bro to sit on the floor and play with plastic Army guys. Let them reenact what happened. When you're all feeling better and calmer, talk about it if you can. This will help the boys work through it, and you,too.

    *So many hugs for you right now*

    The VA is overwhelmed, I think. There are Good people in the system. They're working against years-old inertia, but they're trying.

    The docs at the Richmond, Virginia, VA's polytrauma center are some of the best folks I've ever met. You have my word on that -- and that means something to people who know me.

    Are you taking care of your flu and pneumonia? YOU count, too!

    You did everything right and everything you can. I wish I could punch that insensitive doctor of Middle Eastern extraction in the nose -- or worse. I think a sex change would be more appropriate and a longer-lasting lesson to the little shit. >:-)

    *Hugs for you and yours again*



  15. You have NOT failed as a caregiver and I'm so sorry that hearing that one phrase made you question everything you've done. I'm so proud of your son, reading that brought tears to my eyes. It's going to take some time for everybody to recover from this and it's no one's fault. I've never thought any less of your husband after reading your blog posts. I think a person can only take so much and when you guys do everything you can to reach out for help and there's always a brick wall standing in the way, it just becomes the breaking point. Sometimes I wonder how you can manage just to put one foot in front of the other because I'm not sure I could if I were in your shoes. I've thought about you every day since the retreat and constantly worried about how you were doing but didn't want to butt in like we were the best of friends or overstep any boundaries. Prior to my husband going active duty, I got just a small taste of the lack of resources available to G/R families after their spouses come back from war. It's so frustrating and needs to be fixed now and anything less is unacceptable.

    I'm hoping this ends up being a turning point for your family. That for once, when you get to rock bottom, someone doesn't just hand you a shovel and tell you to keep digging. I don't want your husband just to be another statistic with the VA or for you to have to get familiar with survivor's benefits. I hope he can get the right help this time and find a way to get his life back. Not just another express lane of pills, but real treatment.

    I'm headed your way soon and if you want I'd be more than happy to come crash on your couch or something and talk all night or whatever you need so you don't feel quite so alone. Don't doubt yourself. You are one hell of a caregiver, wife and mom. There is nothing you could've done differently and I know without a doubt you've fought tooth and nail from day one to get through this.

    I love you and you will always have my 100% unconditional support.

  16. I can't even begin to write everything I have to say. I am so, so sorry about all you've been through these past 4 years. I was in almost the same exact situation with my husband a while ago. This post has me crying. I think maybe we all feel alone in this, because I do too

  17. I just want to say that you and your family are in my prayers. My Husband just started therapy for PTSD a little over a month ago. Some of what you described sounded so familiar. I can't tell you how my heart breaks for you and your family. Thank you for sharing such a personal story with us, I know now what to do if this ever happens at my house. You are an amazing and strong woman, and you did not fail your Husband in any way.

  18. I have sat here and read this with chills. I feel that we are slowly approaching one of these episodes. We have had short bursts so far..anger for days...refusal to take truly is enough to scare the hell out of me. I am so thankful that you have posted this because I feel this will be the first thing that pops to my mind when we hit this point. I have tried and tried to tell them that there was something going on...change meds and send us home...story of our lives. Now they are threatening to take his license away because of his memory...I fear that will be the end of him....I fear that will take away his fight....I fear with every inch of my soul that I will be standing in your shoes within a few short months. I dont have the support as most people do because we arent aloud to tell anyone that there is something wrong with him. He doesnt want anyone to think any differently of him...I find myself making excuses for him and for us....I commend you...I think you are one of the bravest women I have ever seen.....thank you so much for sharing...You guys will all be in my prayers!!!

  19. You are not alone. I am a daughter. It is important that you know you have power to change your situation with or without uncle sam's support. You did NOT fail as a caregiver! This situation does not define you, your husband, or your family. As difficult as it may be, stay positive. Learn and keep learning. Pass your knowledge on so that it isn't in vain. Teaching and preventing is the best way to turn this negative into a positive. Your family will recover.

  20. Wow! That's about all I can muster out after reading all of this. I came to your blog because of another wounded warrior's wife liking your screen name. I was a military wife myself for a few years, but he never saw combat. Unfortunately, I taught in a school on an Army base for 15 years and know far too many soldiers who have experiences like yours. God bless your family and you for all that you have gone through and will go through. I hope and pray that help can be found sooner than later for all of our warriors.

  21. I stumbled upon this blog from somewhere, and I wanted to reply. First, I think it is great that you are willing to write about this. The act of writing is therapeutic in itself, and Second, there is nothing that shouldn't be said. These are things that are real, and hiding them or not talking about it doesn't make it any less real. I am a combat veteran myself who has both TBI and PTSD. I have lived the hell that is my recovery, and seen how my actions hurt my family. There is no excuse, there is no way to make it easy. But you did nothing wrong, and in the long run, your love and support will be a blessing for him and a testament to the type of person you are. I hope that things calm down, and from my experience 5 years out, things do end up getting better. It's a long slow process, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

    Semper Fi.

    Daniel L. A. Sgt, USMCR, Iraq 2003, 2005

  22. Dear AMAZING woman !!!!

    Your story really touched me heart.
    I can't say AMAZING enough. !!!!

    U.S. Representatives need to read this message. Especially those who don't GET IT enough to support our veterans by the way they vote for bills of support.
    My Rep does get it, but still I sent him a link to your post and asked him to READ it AND SHARE IT to others.

    IF you want to share with your Rep. Here is a link you can find them at. Just put in your zip code and it will locate your Rep.

    My sincere and ongoing prayers for you and your family. !!!!

    This is a link to an Angel I drew.
    An Angel of Protection.
    May God and His Angels continue to watch over all of our US military and their families.

    XO XO
    Proud Air Force Mom -
    SSgt Vinny - Iraq Vet

  23. I do not understand what you're going through and won't try to pretend to. However, I do know, just by reading your blog post, that you are a very strong woman full of love and support. You are a great caregiver and that is evident. You can not doubt yourself because of what a select few said to you. I hope for the best for you and your family.

  24. I am not military, never have been, but I have been diagnoised with PTSD. It was after a brain hemorrage, aneurysm, craniotomy, depression, etc. It was too many changes in a short period of time they said, ha!, no kiding!, my life has drastically changed in so many ways, christian counceling gave me the tools to re-enter life once again.
    I am so sorry that we as Americans are not caring for those men and women who have stood between us and our enimey, it just isn't right. Is there anything I can do to help you?
    Laurie G.

  25. This is the first I've been back to the blog since everything happened. I haven't heard from you and I've tried to call a few times to no avail. I just keep hoping and praying for you. I know this is tough. I am so glad you shard this though.

    Remember, I'm just a phone call (and a few hours drive) away. Love you!

  26. My Husband has had very similar encounters and experiences like those in your blog. It's call the "SHADOW WARRIOR". That look that comes over them, that anger, that fear. His Shadow Warrior never goes away and never sleeps. It is only pacified by medications from the VA. No one person takes it seriously, especially not the VA. "Admit him to the looney ward or call the suicide prevention line" is what I'm told. I am the one he comes back home to - I am the one suffering the consequences. And no offense to anyone out there, but these Soldiers don't believe in God's insulting to tell them to "Find God". Thank goodness I am a member of Wounded Warrior Project and just recently found a support group for Caregivers just like ourselves. We should not be asked to do this alone -it's too big for us. And you're right, we are constantly asking ourselves "how can I fix this", "what else can I do for him", or "why is my love not enough to make him want to live?". The world needs to know that the trauma from war does not have to be a physical injury. Sometimes the most dangerous injuries are in their minds.

  27. I am sitting next to my Iraq War Vet husband who has PTSD, and he does not know I've read this or that I am commenting. All I can say is, FINALLY someone who knows what my family has been through, too. Yours is a wee bit more extreme than our situation, but in a way it's not. I just went through a similar situation with my husband. I've dealt with this horror, being awaken at night by my husband trying to strangle me or sitting on top of me and bashing my head into a pillow because he thinks that I'm freaking al-Qaeda terrorists. The Army wouldn't listen to me about how bad off he was. They just turned a cheek and said, "He's the soldier, if he wants help, he has to get it." Then he got out of the Army and went National Guard, and the VA just kept pumping him full of Prozac which never helped him. When he started a 3 mos. sexual affair with a whore 2 streets over from us, the VA counselors told me that it was NONE OF MY BUSINESS, and if this is what he wanted to do, he had a right to do it. WTF? You mean, I, his WIFE and MOTHER OF HIS KIDS, of 5 yrs., who stood by his side while he was deployed, then continued to stand by his side through all the shit he put me through, who had a baby boy for him after he begged me for 4 yrs. and then watched as he didn't even get excited about my pregnancy or our baby's birth, who continued to support him but didn't even get his support and recognition when I graduated from college, or when I had our son, or even to this day...after I gave him another chance after that damn affair.

  28. I was the ONE person he contacted, after we (our kids and I) finally left him due to the affair and his out of control outrage and hatred towards us, when he was SUICIDAL and wanted to just die and get it all over with. (He also tried to kill himself WHILE IN IRAQ!). I finally told him that I was done with trying to help him. I tried to help him through the DAV and the VA (hell, I was the one who pushed him to get his disability through the DAV and who made sure he got the medical treatment he got)...I tried for 3 damn years to help him while neglecting me and our daughter. Our needs were never met. The military didn't give a damn about us. The VA didn't give a damn about us. His own freaking family didn't give a damn about us. His family thought I should just let him do whatever the hell he wanted to do, and that obviously, he was cheating on me and ditching our kids because he "cared about" this damn whore he was screwing. This is the same man whose own family always said he'd be a good husband and father. This is the same man, who I KNEW was a damn good husband and father BEFORE Iraq. It's funny because when I left him, I predicted every damn thing he'd do just like I wrote his book of life. I told his family he'd have a mental breakdown (I even told the VA). I told them he'd get into drugs and abuse alcohol. I told them that he'd try to kill himself. I told them that when we left, he'd finally snap and realize that he needed help, but it would be too late. Wow, I must have been a damn fortune teller...or wait, no, I'm HIS WIFE, the woman who KNEW what was wrong with him (I'm also a psych nurse and have been trained in PTSD. I knew he had PTSD from the moment he came home for R&R.). No one wanted to listen to me though. NO ONE!!! When he contacted me and I told him I wasn't helping him anymore, I did suggest, because he asked me to at least give him an idea of what he needed to do and he told me that he WANTED help, that he go to the VA ER and tell them he was suicidal and needed help. To my surprise, he did JUST that! He was in in-patient psych for a week, and he FINALLY got a civilian psychiatrist who ACTUALLY cared about his well-being and was honest with him about the fact that the Army failed him in regards to his disability severity. He said his PTSD was way worse than the Army tried saying it was. This doc actually got my husband's rating to be increased. This doc finally got my husband on anti-psychotics for his night terrors, which is what I kept telling my husband for 2-1/2 yrs. and tried telling his docs that he needed, but NO, this PSYCH NURSE and HIS WIFE had no damn clue what he needed. My husband told the psychiatrist that he WANTED me involved in his psych care plan EVENTHOUGH I left him and probably didn't want him back...because my husband knew I was the ONLY one who ever cared about him and his mental health and well-being! He finally realized that I was the one who tried taking care of him when no one else wanted to, or when they were all in denial. This psychiatrist told me that if I hadn't been a psych nurse and hadn't known so much about psychiatric conditions and PTSD, had I not been so understanding of my husband's condition, if I had been any other wife with no knowledge and understanding, that my husband would have definitely either been dead or been one of our lost souls in the VA system.

  29. I can honestly say that I helped to save my husband's life, but eventhough, it took him flipping out on us, threatening to kill me many times, cheating on me, hurting me, destroying my trust for him, making me feel like I don't even want to be with this man who I fell so madly in love with before Iraq, cheating me and my daughter of 3 yrs. of our lives, sometimes it takes walking down a rocky path to be able to find a smooth surface. It's been 10 mos since my husband ended the affair and sought treatment, and we are still working through our issues but are wanting to stay together. Sometimes I ask myself is it even worth it, then I look at the pics of us BEFORE Iraq, and I remember THAT is the man I love. I always tell people that I feel like a widow because I feel like MY HUSBAND died in Iraq, and the Army sent back a stranger for me to learn to love in his place. No one understands what we wives and children go through. Sometimes I wonder if anyone even cares. My family doesn't understand. My friends, unless they are in my shoes, don't understand. Society doesn't understand. People tell me all the time that I'm strong and the best wife...everyone BUT my husband. I feel so unappreciated by him. It's like I did all this and I'm going through all this for nothing. He's not cheating anymore, and he takes his meds and sticks to his therapies, but I'm still left with the heartache and hurt. I'm still left with the issues that are in MY head. I'm still left with the memories. I think my husband has erased THAT part of his memory, thinking that if he forgets about it then maybe it never happened. I could only WISH I was THAT lucky. I've gone to the VA for support and counseling. We were going through counseling when the affair was going on and when he and I got back together, and BOTH times, the sole focus of our sessions was THE SOLDIER, him. They didn't care how I felt. They didn't care what I had to say. They loved pushing the blame off on me. Obviously, the hurt I have in my heart and the memories I have, I just need to let go of and forget about, according to them, and I need to be forgiving of him because he was "sick". Yes, he was sick! I fu**ing tried to tell you all that 3 damn years ago!!! If someone would have listened to me, we would have never had to experience this...then you are going to sit there and tell me that I shouldn't feel the way I do!!!??? Yes, the VA is finally taking care of him THANKS TO that ONE psychiatrist in the in-patient! Yes, my husband is taking his meds, going to therapies, and in school full time and doing really good. Where does all this leave me though? Like you said, the Obama plan about military families, which I read over just yesterday, is a joke! No one really cares to help us. I'm sick of it. And now the Army National Guard thinks it's perfectly ok to send him BACK TO WAR! He's due to go to Afghanistan in the next year or so. Thanks! Thanks for doing this to us all over again. And so the story repeats itself...stay tuned...I know all this will replay itself when he returns home from THAT deployment!

    1. my jaw hit the floor on that last sentence...

  30. As I read your post my memories came rushing back of the very same life I lived just a few years ago. I too found myself wrapped in my husbands hands hanging from the wall trying with the little breath I had to plea for my life staring at a man that was not my husband. His eyes were dark and distant. He was holding our 1 year old on his hip while our oldest daughter was screaming and talking on the phone to my mother explaining that her dad was killing her mom. That moment had years leading up to it when he slept outside in unfinished homes being built in our neighborhood after we would fight. There were outbursts of uncontrollable anger, along with the drinking and unfounded nastiness toward myself and my children for months. He would see the people that he held as they died in the grocery store and would turn white. He was angry at everything and tI was the buffer between him and society. There wasn't a day that went by that I didn't fear he would hurt or kill someone, including me or my children. I didn't call the police. Someone else did. I didn't want him him to go to jail but it was the best thing that happened.

    Before all of this happened we went together to the VA and I voiced my concerns about his mental health. He was in full out combat for days before he was severely wounded and he saw some really bad stuff. The Psych Dr. told him he wasn't in Iraq and it wasn't ok to kill anyone here. That was her answer. We left and I was so worried about my life. I knew things were not good and there was no support for him. After he went to jail for my assault he went away for 111 days to a place called The Pathway Home in California. It was there he changed into the man I am married to now. Our lives are so much better now. We learned tools to manage his PTSD and although it never goes away it is under control where he can live life and understand what is happening. I too had to step away and care for myself.
    My oldest daughter was effected for a while. We just had to keep telling her that her father was sick and that we love each other very much. She eventually got better. We are much healthier family today.
    I had a lot of people say I should not have stayed married to him. To them I said I would never leave him if he had cancer or a heart attack. This was no different than that. He was sick. We have been married 14 years now and our marriage has strengthened through this.
    You are NOT a failure!! You did the best you could. We all do the best we can. Never doubt yourself. This is a hard journey that takes years to overcome. We are at 7 years in April. You can do this. I am here if you ever need to talk or need resources. Gina has my number. Please call me. Gina has become on of my greatest supporters. You need least a call once a month to just let it out without judgement.

    Take care of yourself too. You deserve it.

  31. I'm at a loss for words, my heart is heavy...I thought I was alone...thank you for posting the "REAL STORY" behind our lives. Finally, I feel like I'm not crazy afterall for continuing to love my hero. HOOAH!!!!!!!!

    Yvonne Herbel
    wife to SSG (Ret) Steven M. Herbel II

  32. Hey Girl...
    It's Jasmin. I don't really read blogs, so I just saw this and you totally made me do the ugly cry as Cheryl so fittingly calls it. I don't even really know what to say.
    I feel you on the "Have I failed" thing. DH and me have been having a rough time, nothing as rough as you, but I keep asking myself If I'm failing or if I'm wrong for trying to hold everything together when it seems like he could care less.
    I hope this treatment will help him and you to live a more normal and all the other things fall into place too. If there's one person who deserves that it's you for everything you do! Luv ya...

  33. You are not a failure but a strong did the right thing by taking him in...i am 24 years old and have been with my husband for 5 years married 10 all together he will be turning 25 in may and suffers from PTSD...he was in the air force as combat ground support and was deployed 3 times in a 4 year period all to combat locations....he doesn't have a severe case of it to the scent of your husband's but his is pretty bad....we fight over nothing and he tells me every few months he can't do it anymore he hates me and i have done nothing wrong....while I'm sitting there crying he just starts laughing....he gas the same dreams over and over and always about him in the desert...he is still waiting to go to the VA for his PTSD course but they don't have anything available until the 22 of April....i mean it seems like no one sees the severity of this illness because that's what it and women fighting for our country and can't live normal lives because of an illness that makes them not forget the trauma they heart goes out for you and your family...

  34. I don't know you but I love you for posting this. My husband has been back for nearly 4 years after his second tour. We have been dealing with his PTSD and TBI, this past fall he had a similar incident. He cut off the power to our house so I couldn't call for help, he thought I was an Iraqi woman hiding her son who had planted an IED. He had knives, at first he was going to kill me, then himself, he went from slamming things, to that dark hysterical "mad scientist" laughter you described, this went on for an hour and a half until I made a break for it to get to our neighbors. Thank God my daughter was at my moms house. I would recommend that people also get one of those fire safety ladders to throw out of the window so if you are trapped in an upstairs room you can get out....Are there any programs for women like us? I feel so alone.

  35. Hi Retro- that is a good idea on the ladder. Gosh, how sad is it we must even think of this stuff? On the programs, I am still always seeking. I know the Wounded Warrior Project has spouse/caregiver retreats. You can also find the Wounded Warrior Wives on Operation Homefront and on Facebook. You will need to register in order to be able to get anything. They have some awesome things come up from time to time for us. There are a variety of chat forums and such, but personally...I need that face to face interaction. Often I feel as if all my friends really do live inside my computer! lol Do register for WWW's though and if you have any issues, just let me know or if you can't find the link. It is NOT the OH assistance page so don't go there. Thanks for your input!

  36. OMG! I am in that place your husband is in. Im 3+ years out of an accident here stateside that was considered in the line of duty. I have been screaming for 3 years for help and NO ONE is listening. I have moved from Idaho to Maine to try and change the environment for a better reaction in myself, but it failed and I ran from there back to Idaho as I resigned my position as the Chief Nurse Case Manager. Yup - I am in the system and I see its effects every day on soldiers as I try to manage their cases. Far too often WE as care providers are told to stick to our mission and stay in our lane. Meaning - we must fill the lines with bodies to deploy. We must put all logic and clinical consideration aside unless a few flags are raised. Sadly - as most the world can see - these flags allow the most troubled and broken soldiers to deploy. The think because a soldier with severe PTSD etc and has been doing well in his small town of Idaho and simple job that he is OK to deploy. I have screamed to no ends and failed to have the people making the choices to correct the mistakes. He deployed and all the others did as well.
    I have suffered TBI and PTSD with major depressive disorder and chronic pain from the accident. The drive for a soldier is to move forward and believe all will improve. We are drilled to focus on the group or whole and not ourselves. When we make hints and the RED FLAGS should be screaming in the face of the clinical and professional help - it gets ignored. It truely feels that the ONLY time we as soldiers get care is when they (VA and other providers) are trying to FIX what may not have gotten so broken if they were wise enough to be proactive and save the mind and heart of a good soldier.
    Somehow they dont understand that every day of neglect is a year of recovery since we TBI people spin down FAST and fight hard to survivie. It sucks, but its now reality and my life.
    Currently I am again screaming for help from the Army and VA as I have no job and income and apply for food stamps and other assistance. I was/am a CPT and nurse. I had a great life and it went away with the TBI and PTSD with depression. I feel your pain, but can also see myself in the shoes of your dear husband. It is only a matter of time - I know that. The professionals dont. When they are told the truth it gets put in a stack of disguarded details.
    It is ONLY in reaction to a failure does the VA and Army react. In the mean time - the soldier begins to feel very confused and alone. The drive to do everything and anything to survivie is over powering. To be in that phase is unreal. I have hit minor levels of the same deal as your husband. Its like I am outside my body watching myself and knowing even I must step away and let the anger out.
    The clinical and logical part in me knows very well the direction I am heading. As they tell me/family to be patient and think positive, its hard when the entire world sees me as crazy, my career in health care is over and I have been required to have an escort when I come on base. I have been searched (with my wife) twice on the base in public. There is nothing pleasent to look forward to. Nothing. In one day or short period, a soldier/person can go from top of the world to scum of society and Army and VA bad boy.
    We will all suffer long for their inability to understand the pain of TBI and those living with the soldier.
    It is only a matter of time when most of us will "snap" as the inner survival instinct builds with every disappointment in our lives.
    God Bless America and our service members that are serving every day in their own sad world because of TBI.

  37. Thank you for having the courage to write about this experience so candidly. It helps me in SO MANY WAYS on SO MANY LEVELS. I know none of that will help you at this time. All I can say is I am here. You are not alone! I know your story. I know the feeling of utter loneliness and despair. The feeling of absolute powerlessness. I know the feeling of wanting your touch to calm the man you love. Your story and insights helped me see I was not alone in my situation. I am in one of those weeks where I am barely holding on. My beautiful loving husband gone, yet, sitting a room away.
    Thank you for your courage and your honesty about your frustration and anger with the people who are supposed to help him.
    Thank you!

  38. I just read your post and seen my own life flash before my eyes. I know exactly what you are going through. I live with this on a daily basis because my husband served in the army and did multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and suffers from PTSD and TBI. Nobody in this world knows what we have to go through on a daily basis unless you have to deal with it yourself. I woke up suddenly one morning to my husband pushing me on the floor off of the bed because he was having a night tear and all I could do was lay there and try not to cry so he wouldn't hear me and hopefully forget that I was there. You will never feel complete loneliness until you are in one of these situations where there is nothing you can do. I have had fights with the PTSD/TBI clinics in our state about not trying to help and just filling my husband with pills. Not even the pills work sometimes. My husband can't hear or watch fireworks because of the sound and site of some of them without have a flash back. They need counselors that have actually been through what they have to help them deal with it, not someone who has a degree and read a book on it. Thank you for your brave heart!

  39. I have felt so alone the past few days and for the first time. in years i didnt reading this i mean i am a 27 year old caregiver. i hate when they call me that or ask me that. my husband was security forces in the airforce and was recently medically retired and diagnosed with ptsd andt tbi. due to his tbi he has borderline dementia. before i read your story i never realized how many other women their are out there like me. i cant go to work due to i worry all the time about what would happen if i was gone. expecially with the rage issues. the dr.s kept perscribing more and more pills till my husband had an allergic reaction to them the dr. he was seeing gave him 4 new perscriptions at one time which led to him going into respirotory failure. which now i feel like hes getting worse and starting to have flash backs during the day. he part of the wounded warriors but i dont know where to go for support for me. just to not feel alone


    Please speak with Anna Frese at or 904.296.7350.

    Also - Michelle Kacer - Wounded Warrior Project Coordinator

    Ana & Michelle arranged for my wife to attend a CareGivers Retreat last year. What a God Send for her! I feel so bad, as there are many times where Kim has to do too much for me and makes me feel guilty. Im headed in for third back surg this Thursday. I have PTSD, Anxiety, and they say I have major depressive disorder - but I dont....anyway. Email me if you'd like to speak with my wife. I can be reached at
    God Bless
    Max Reinhardt

  41. Fantastic article, so moving and it rings absolutely true with me (and my husband). I've read your website since I found this article, and wanted to return here and finally leave a message to applaud you for sharing your feelings. It makes a difference to me, so thank you.

  42. Have shared this with 1200 friends today on Facebook

  43. I am feeling the same way alone isolated and i have no one to turn to no resources nothing that is changing how i feel i am losing my strength and not sure what to do my email is if anyone has any advice or support to offer thanks in advance.

  44. I am sending you some resources Anonymous to the email listed you gave. Please don't feel alone and know that strength comes from the weakest moments. USM


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